Disney Goes to War or, Stop That Tank!

During World War II, the Disney company joined in the Allied war effort by producing animated movie material at cost for the US government (they also created insignia mascots for hundreds of aircraft and warships by request). These films number well over one hundred – although most are only partially created by Disney – and cover topics from antenna tuning to Beechcraft airplane maintenance to anti-German and Japanese propaganda. However, one piece in particular is of interest to us here at Forgotten Weapons: Stop That Tank!

Produced in 1942 for the Canadian military, it is a training film on the operation and maintenance of the Boys anti-tank rifle. The Disney contribution is in animated x-ray views of the various parts of the gun, and about 3 minutes of introduction featuring a section of Nazi tanks (the lead one driven by none other than Adolf Hitler) being surprised and driven back by a bunch of plucky doughboys hiding Boys AT rifles in bushes, outhouses, and horses.

Stop That Tank - Boys AT rifle in a horse
A novel place to hide an anti-tank weapon…

The intro is pretty hilarious, but the meat of the film is actually a very informative piece on how the Boys works and how to use it. There are a couple copies of this already on YouTube, but thanks to reader Frank, we have a nice high-quality version that we have uploaded in its entirety:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlJD0pZp4eQh

Oh – and don’t miss the bit at the end with the doughboy getting a bit too friendly with his rifle!

11 Comments

  1. Very amusing, I’ve seen a few Disney war works before but not this one. However, the claims that the boys rifle is ‘highly effective’ and depicting them penetrating frontal armor are a bit dubious 😉

  2. The Germans produced a (nonanimated) film titled “Mann Gegen Panzer” which was quite good. Some of the live action photography is spectacular and a still showing a 37mm PAK crew celebrating a hit became one of the most memorable images from German wartime propaganda.

  3. I have also seen a U tube German flick on how an infantry man can defeat a T34 using bundled grenades, a magnetic grenade with a HEAT warhead (The Germans used zimmerit paste on their tanks for about a year on the assumption that the allies would use a similar weapon.), Teller mine, well placed shot from an anti-tank rifle at point blank range between the suspension components into lower hull…all, of course with a non-moving buttoned up T34.
    Brave man or suicide bomber? T34’s came with ‘tank riders’ and Panthers with Panzergrenadiers.
    I’m pretty sure that the raw recruits quickly learned – or already knew that these ideas were
    well, cartoon shows!
    But fun to watch now,
    TKerr.

  4. Love it. Use an “oily flannelette” to clean! The anti-tank rifle later resurfaces as the “anti-materiel rifle” no? Decades ago in Washington State I saw a Boys Anti-Tank Rifle converted to .50 BMG. Too bad no one has been able to do likewise, or .416 or whatever, with an old Soviet PTRD-41! That’d be neat.

    I don’t know if the USSR used animated cartoons, but folks have probably seen that there is a cartoon for the Mosin-Nagant service rifle.

    • Dave:
      “Decades ago in Washington State I saw a Boys Anti-Tank Rifle converted to .50 BMG. Too bad no one has been able to do likewise, or .416 or whatever, with an old Soviet PTRD-41! That’d be neat.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PTRD
      “After World War II the PTRD was also used extensively by North Korean and Chinese armed forces in the Korean War. During this war, William Brophy, an American Army Ordnance officer, mounted a .50 BMG barrel to a captured PTRD to examine the effectiveness of long-range shooting. The weapon proved effective out to 2,000 yards.”

  5. The tanks in the film that are of a realistic type (as opposed to just cartoon fantasies) seem to most closely resemble the PzKw II, which was the most common German tank used in the invasion of France.
    The PzKw II had relatively thin armour as did the early models of PzKw III. The Boys may have had adequate performance against those tanks.

    It is interesting that the version of the Boys used in the film is the British version. The Canadian made version (made by Inglis) had a different muzzle brake and bipod and are quite distinctive.

    P.S. – I’ve never heard of Canadian or British soldiers being referred to as “doughboys”. I think that’s strictly American slang.

    P.P.S – The animated soldier looks like he was based on Elmer Fud!

  6. Chipping in my two cents: the animation work here was done at Disney by Ub Iwerks, who was the creator of Mickey Mouse. This was the first animation work he did after a decade’s absence from the company, where his film company floundered partly because he loved animating things more than people. He was also a gun collector and gunsmith, so they absolutely got the right guy to demonstrate how the action works.

  7. Hi. I just stumbled across this site. My dad, Peter Page, is the soldier firing the anti tank gun and giving instructions on the use of same. He was also involved in several animated films for Disney and was an incredible artist. Jon Page.

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  1. Disney’s Stop That Tank! | State Of Tactical
  2. Disney’s Stop That Tank! – The News Doctors

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